Interview with Alexey Yanchuk from the Travelpayouts Team
September 13, 2017Comments (4)
We continue to introduce you to our Travelpayouts team. Next on our list is Alexey Yanchuk, who manages our WordPress plugin development, participates in conferences, prepares landing pages and widgets for partners, and supervises the work of all our freelancers.
Could you tell us what you were doing before joining the Travelpayouts team?
Before I joined the Travelpayouts team, I worked at a major media holding in Ukraine and was into YouTube video monetization. I was certified at YouTube’s London office before I started working in a new direction in the company. In my opinion, I was able to build processes fairly well, work out strategies (where possible), train the guys in the team and explain how to live with it in general. We started to earn decent money and the guys after me embraced the processes very well and continued what I was doing. Today, the company’s portfolio has a couple of YouTube channels with over 1 million subscribers; one more channel is approaching 1 million, and a few other channels have several hundred thousand subscribers. Towards the end of my work at the media company, I began to monetize resources using Google AdX and a little of YAN (an advertising network from Yandex — Russian search engine). Having worked there for 2 years (from May 2013 to March 2015), I decided to try my hands in something different and less connected with the media.
Before working with YouTube, I worked at MTV Ukraine (it existed then) and at children’s Ukrainian television channel Pixel. I worked at the TV as an intern. I was initially into web content and MTV interactive projects (SMS, IVR, etc.). Later, I was promoted at work and entrusted with higher responsibilities — deciding on which order to put programs on air: first MTV and then Pixel. Based on measurements, we decided in what order and at what time to place certain programs, advertisements, promos, etc. At the same time, I checked the readiness of TV programs before they go on air, their translation. I reviewed the content for purchase, engaged in live broadcasts of MTV, VMA and EMA.
Which of the stars were you able to meet on TV?
Maybe the question should be which of the stars was I not able to meet. But for me, it doesn’t matter at all because I never had a particular interest in show business. Working with celebrities wasn’t my responsibility. But Ukrainian, Russian and foreign celebrities visited our office time and again.
How did you come to Travelpayouts?
I don’t really remember from where I saw a vacancy about an affiliate manager in the best office in the world. I sent my CV, but got no answer. I had a backup option — a friend of mine, with whom I once worked at MTV and who at that time was working at Aviasales. But I also found the email address of Ivan Baidin, made a short presentation on my vision of an affiliate program (although, frankly speaking, I didn’t understand anything at all in that) and sent it to him. Ivan responded fairly quickly: Skype interview, offer, I left my current place of work and 2 weeks later I travelled to Phuket. That is, by March 2015, I was already with the Travelpayouts team.
From the presentation you sent to Ivan, which idea was implemented?
Welcome screen for new partners. Segmentation helped our partners to understand all the variety of available materials. It also enabled us to reduce the number of tickets and slightly improve onboarding.
What is your current duty at the company?
I’m involved in almost everything in a little bit. I come up with tasks for myself. At first, this was unusual and complicated, but now it’s difficult to imagine how to do without self-management. Before hiring me, Ivan honestly told me that he won’t be telling me what and how to do something, or to come up with tasks for me. Now, for example, I help to prepare newsletter, I’ve been into WordPress plugin development since 2015 (before it wasn’t ours and it was not free). I was also into everything related to outsourcing (landing pages, translating of documents, databases, our articles for blog), localization of tools. I’m also “lazily” doing SEO optimization of affiliate program — the designer and I developed the home page of Travelpayouts and selected content for it. I periodically help with partner support and I participate in conferences. In general, something of a self project management, alternating it with product management and is not very related to the position of an “affiliate manager”, which is very good, in my opinion.
I currently have the following projects: WordPress plugin (we prepare new design and big refactoring), localization of our tools (already more than 40 languages), we are finishing a PHP template project based on a search API for partners and a small redesign of our Blog.
This year we plan to launch a foreign affiliate network — I’m communicating with some advertisers on this.
Recently, my team made an Inspiration tab at an internal hackathon. In the near future, we plan to promote, and then maybe make a solution for partners. Let’s see how it goes.
In which conferences have you participated?
At the ITB convention in Singapore with panel discussion, I was nervous at first because there were a lot of people and the discussion was in English. However, this was a very useful experience for me.
Affiliate conference in Bangkok — it turned out that there were very little travel representatives, and there was very many Russian-speaking guys. You can hardly go to anywhere and not meet Russian speakers at international conferences. Basically, it’s about grids, some advertising solutions, or something else in that nature.
Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas is a huge conference where we have actively participated for the third year. We have our booth there. For 3 days straight, you get tired constantly communicating with people and you become happy whenever you have the chance to sit down, rest and shut up.
I combined my working trips with rest: I met with friends, was sheltered (big thanks to the guys!) and enjoyed myself. In general, I’m super lucky when it comes to friends and acquaintances: some would drive you in their car for a couple of days for free, everyone was happy to meet and arrange an overnight stay for you (accommodation in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto is very expensive), some arranged mini tours (took me to the offices of Twitter, Google), etc.
What skills did you acquire at Travelpayouts?
First of all, I acquired Internet project skills (I used to work only with media before), which is what I really wanted. I also gained experience interacting with developers and designers in the team, communicating with partners and contractors.
What’s annoying about your work?
In the beginning, it was frustrating when our freelance contractors disappear and stop responding through all communication channels. But in general, this is normal, it happens not so often. I now take such situations calmly. These are just risks and they can always be reduced by working with proven contractors or with studios. You’ll always save somewhere and lose somewhere.
Travelpayouts in the future — what kind of affiliate is it?
This year we plan to launch an affiliate network abroad. There will be even more offers. We are currently the biggest in the travel segment in the world, but are known only in the CIS. There will also be more partners and a new interface some day. 🙂 In general, we have written plans and ideas for a couple of years ahead.
You’ve used Windows for a long time, why did you decide to switch to Mac? What are your feelings after this switch?
I came to an island with an inexpensive laptop and worked on Windows. Everyone forgot to tell me that I need my computer for work. But in general, I somehow got used to it; about after a year, I scratched my laptop screen with coconuts I was carrying in the trunk of a moped. So I worked with an additional monitor for a while until I changed the screen. At first, I was hesitant in spending such a huge amount on Macbook. I waited for the next generation to be released. But the release of the new one was postponed from summer to November — I started thinking about the purchase far back in January’16. So I bought it in February this year.
For me, it really does not matter on which computer to work. My work is mostly about the browser, and less often about dev tools. MacBook of course made my work more comfortable. But you have the price difference — $1500 against $300. It would be strange if one wouldn’t feel the comfort with such a difference. I ordered for the computer in Singapore.
Which phone do you use?
I had a Nexus 5X but it went whack, now I use the office Samsung for testing. Perhaps I’ll buy myself something new in fall — let’s see what happens.
What do you do in your free time?
I love cooking, but I help more if that’s what I can call it. 🙂 In general, I go home for lunch in 90% of cases. I rarely eat Thai food — I’m tired of it and generally like only a few dishes.
From January to June, I practiced Thai boxing almost every day. Then I bought a Honda CRF250L and I was accepted into our aviasales CRF CLUB. 🙂 I liked enduro racing (riding on an off-road bike in an off-road terrain), but I broke my hand during a ride in the jungle. It’s good that we all here are well-insured — the surgery cost about seven thousand euros. Titanium plate was inserted in my hand and then a plaster cast. I plan to continue to ride as soon as possible.
How often do you travel?
When I got the job, we traveled around Asia every 2-3 months. We haven’t travelled to anywhere in the last six months now. We have been to Kuala Lumpur, in Singapore several times, to Bali, Vietnam, to the north and south of Thailand, to Korea, Cambodia, to Hong Kong several times and to Macau. I liked Seoul and Hong Kong the most. In general, traveling here is necessary — they give you a taste of a city and help you to escape from the rural feelings of Phuket.
How often do you fly to Ukraine?
I haven’t been to Ukraine for the past 2.5 years. But I will be there by the end of August. My parents have visited me several times, including friends and acquaintances.
Do you use Travelpayouts?
I use Travelpayouts when possible. In Asia, low-cost airlines don’t pay commissions, so I book tickets directly on their websites, bypassing OTA. But I book hotels only through Hotellook via a referral link. Although I read the reviews first on Agoda or Booking.com. I’ve used Cherehapa (Russian online travel insurance service) a couple of times, and the guys there once helped me to sort out issues with an insurance company that refused to pay me my commissions. But since then, I’ve been buying the local AXA for countries where I’m not under corporate insurance — it’s safer, because Russian and Ukrainian insurance companies in most cases require you to buy a policy before crossing the border.
Do you miss borsch and salo? (traditional home food)
LOL 🙂 While I was living in Phuket, I ate borsch in Russian restaurants a couple of times — nothing to write home about. But in general, no, I don’t miss them, except very occasionally. They’ve never been my favorite food. Most of all, there is not enough good and affordable mineral water (it’s a difficult issue in Thailand), some native fruit and good milk.
Do not hesitate to ask Alexey your questions.